Getting on with fitting in
My Adventures in Wonderland…so far has been one of my most popular blogs. It seems to have struck a chord with many people and certainly triggered some interesting conversations on Facebook.
It has fascinated me watching the debate about the best way to fit in to a new community (or workplace for that matter), and how long the fitting in process should take. I think together we have discovered the following 3 approaches:
- The “kindness-a-day” approach: This says there is an onus on the community to be welcoming to newcomers – include them, invite them over, orient them to their surroundings, introduce them to other people.
- The “you have to be in it to win it” approach: This says there is an onus on the newcomer to actively seek out opportunities to join in – join committees, invite people over, introduce yourself etc. You can’t expect others to do it for you so you must do it for yourself.
- The “live in your own skin” approach: This says fitting in can be side-stepped by the process of just being yourself – just be you and it will be all right. When you are you, fitting in just doesn’t seem to matter so much.
And so I wonder…
And I wonder which of these aspects is true? Who is the winner of the great Facebook debate? Is there some other aspect of fitting in that has not yet come to light?
But it’s only natural that people put forward a position based on their own experience and personality. Think about this…
Some people are overflowing with kindness by nature. They are born to give – and give they do. It’s not hard to give at all – indeed it’s harder not to give. And people like this are wonderful at drawing in newcomers. They bring food, they give lifts, they comfort. And they are very successful in easing the way for people new to their circle.
Some people are outgoing and friendly by nature – shyness is not a problem. So faced with change and the need to fit in they lead with their strength – they use the “you have to be in it to win it” approach to superb advantage. They make friends, join committees, and are very successful at fitting in.
Some people are talented at knowing how to be themselves. It sounds simple but it’s not. Knowing yourself, knowing your strengths and knowing your weaknesses is a foundation to self improvement, growth and being yourself. And having the self-confidence to be the person who you are, with integrity is very magnetic. So those of us who build a life lived with authenticity can draw others in without even seeming to try.
Which approach do you think each type of person supports? But, it does not follow that just because an approach works for me, or works for you, it will work for everybody.
Because we all have different personalities, different strengths and different weaknesses. Some of us are painfully shy, some are fiercely independent. Some of use are affected by community mores, others never spend a second thinking about them.
And we all have different life experiences and different challenges – some of us have been on thousands of committees and love them. Some of us have been caught up in a communal arguments and sensitised to disagreements. We all feel different levels of homesickness, and experience different levels of internal or external support.
And so, it may be cliched, but we are all different.
Getting on with fitting in
So the three approaches above must all be true. We all probably need to access all of them.
We need to be kind when the occasion calls – and know how to accept kindness. Whether or not it is our nature.
We need to be active and involved and open to opportunity, even make opportunities. Whether or not it is our nature.
And we need to be try to ourselves and live in our skin as authentic beings. No matter how hard it may be to do this.
And when we braid these three together we’ll have an unbreakable rope to hold onto when things are hard, and to climb up as we prepare to fly.
And that’s how I think we need to be getting on with fitting in.